91-Year-Old Woman Discovers She’s Been Pregnant For 60 Years

We don’t even believe those reality shows where women don’t realize they’ve been carrying a baby for 9 months. Now they don’t realize it for 60 years?! That was the case for Estela Meléndez, who got the surprise of her — very long — life. The woman in question was 91 years old when she made the discovery. Doctors scrambled to figure out how this could even happen.
Estela Meléndez and her husband, Manuel, lived in the coastal town of La Boca, Chile. During their marriage of 74 years, they went through countless difficulties, but none more difficult than the one Estella faced in 2015.
Estela woke one morning to find her husband unresponsive in their bed. Once he was declared deceased, Estella was mortified. She knew her life was about to change drastically, but she never could’ve guessed how.
After the ceremonies and countless prayers with friends and family, Estela went back to her home, now quieter than ever. She reflected on her biggest regret of the last 75 years — never having children with Manuel.
Losing Manuel reminded Estela of what they had missed out on. But having a family with the man she loved was the true dream. “We suffered tremendously for this reason,” recalled Estela to CNN. What was preventing them from conceiving?
Doctors were perplexed by Estela’s inability to conceive. With no ovulation issues, Estela only ever developed a single tumor much later in life. However, regrets about her infertility were only the beginning for the grieving widow.
After Manuel passed, Estela kept to herself. She began to lose her hearing and her mobility, the latter due to a nasty case of arthritis. And then, one year after her husband’s passing, Estela had an accident.
While handling chores, now all by herself, Estela tripped and fell. Thankfully, she was able to get back up on her own, but she knew she’d have to get to the hospital as quickly as possible.
Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images for Lumix
Unfortunately, Estela’s little coastal town was 40 miles away from the nearest hospital. Being without a car or public transportation, Estela begged for a lift from her friend to Claduio Vicuña hospital in San Antonio. Her friend agreed and they left without delay.
Once they arrived, Estela’s friend escorted her into the main building, where she explained her fall. Physicians immediately brought her in for a full body x-ray to ensure there was no internal damage. What they found would soon shock the world.
Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images
The doctors assumed they were on the hunt for a second tumor, considering Estela’s previous uterine tumor and stints with cancer. Now, they were wondering if the first had really been a tumor at all!
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
What doctors once thought was a tumor was, in fact, a deceased fetus that had been inside of Estela for an astounding 60 years. After wishing for a child for so long, Estela was devastated to hear the news. The doctors informed Estela that she wasn’t the only one.
This strange condition is called lithopedion, or, as it’s more colloquially called, having “stone babies.” Only 300 cases have been recorded in medical history. The condition has to do with where the baby grows inside the uterus. Or, rather, outside the uterus.
Otis Historical Archives Nat’l Museum of Health & Medicine
Often, a diagnosis of lithopedion means that the baby has developed on the exterior of the uterus. This can cause extreme risks, especially if the baby is absorbed into the mother’s body. With Estela, however, something different was happening.
If a fetus on the exterior of the uterus has developed too much, it won’t be absorbed. Instead, it will turn into hardened calcium carbonate, much like what happens to cartilage as we age. Surgical removal is possible, but in Estela’s case, the doctors flat-out refused.
Photo by Pascal Parrot/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images
Estela was too old to undergo an operation, meaning the fetus would have to remain in place. Upon hearing this news, Estela said it would act as a reminder of her husband. She returned to her quiet village, only to find her home flocked with camera crews!
Estela’s story went international. The Washington Post, ABC, NBC, and CNN rushed in. People from across the globe wanted interviews and photographs. Tabloids wanted to catch the old woman in tears. Her true reaction to the press, however, was quite unusual.
Estela recalled the stories of her life with her husband in a calm, collected tone. Every disease, every loss, every hardship was told with a positivity that the news crews hadn’t been expecting. This resonated with folks, as one woman somberly recalled.
“I guess one way of looking at it is they did have a child and she carried it around with her for 60+ years… And now since they won’t remove it she still has a part of him with her.” In fact, it seems Estela’s sad story wasn’t the only local case.
Patrick Lux/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
In 2013, an 82-year-old woman in Columbia was taken to the emergency room after suffering from pains in her stomach. They performed the same scans as they did with Estela and found a 40-year-old fetus in her abdomen! Six years later, another case was reported halfway across the world.
A woman in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia discovered she had a 22-year-old fetus within her, causing her extreme abdominal pain. The doctors were able to remove the fetus, but Estela’s case proves that surgery isn’t necessary for life to keep on going. And a happy life, at that!
Of course, even younger women can be shocked by their ultrasounds. Twin sisters Jill Noe and Whitney Bliesner were as close as could be, and they swore to always be there for each other. At the same time, the two women were pretty different — no carbon-copy twins here.
Despite Jill’s giving attitude toward her sister, she had a serious competitive streak. She was a star point guard on Arizona State University’s basketball team and was still in peak athletic form long after graduation. Her sister wasn’t as fortunate.
Cactus Ranch / Robert Kline
For many years, Whitney seemed just as happy and healthy as her twin. But troubling symptoms started to pop up at an early age. Her vision and hearing deteriorated, sending the family into a panic.
ABC News
Doctors diagnosed Whitney with type 2 neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that causes tumors to spread across the nervous system. While the growths weren’t cancerous, they did dramatically change Whitney’s life.
Specifically, the disease made Whitney partially blind in one eye and permanently damaged her hearing. Nevertheless, she took it all in stride — and managed to find love.
Pete Bliesner was a dream come true for Whitney, who feared she’d never get the chance to marry after all her health scares. Jill proudly watched her twin tie the knot, and soon, the two sisters were discussing the future.
Facebook / Jill Noe
Both Jill and Whitney valued family, so the new bride knew all along that she wanted kids of her own. Her neurofibromatosis, however, made pregnancy a difficult prospect. Years passed as she and Pete tried in vain to conceive.
Facebook / Jill Noe
By 2018, Whitney was 35 and running out of time. With the old-fashioned method failing them, she and Pete began considering adoption. A surrogate was another option, albeit an expensive one. Jill then approached her sister with an idea.
Arizona Republic
The twins had long been close as could be, so wouldn’t it make the most sense for Jill to be Whitney’s surrogate? This gave the Bliesers the best shot at a child, plus they wouldn’t have to rely on a stranger.
Inside Edition
Tearing up, Whitney accepted her sister’s offer. Using donor eggs and Pete’s sperm, they underwent in vitro fertilization. The twins could only hope that this last-ditch effort would pan out.
It didn’t take too long for the good news to arrive. The procedure worked, and soon Jill was swelling up like a balloon. She and Whitney were so excited as they went in for an ultrasound. However, they didn’t see quite what they’d expected.
Everyone in the family had their hopes up for an image of a healthy baby boy or girl. Instead, they saw two fetuses there. The family was about to welcome their second straight generation of twins!
ABC News
This revelation blew Jill’s mind. Though no pregnancy was easy, she now had to deal with carrying two babies at once. The hardened athlete had to admit that she had a daunting task ahead of her.
That fear, however, was nothing next to the excitement she felt for Pete and Whitney. Learning that they were expecting boys, the parents-to-be picked out names and ordered some custom onesies.
Even the lucky mom and her surrogate got in on the custom clothing order! Naturally, they had to order very different sizes, as Jill was in the thick of her final trimester. It wouldn’t be long before the moment of truth.
As trying as the conception was, the actual delivery went off without a hitch. Rhett and Rhenley were born in June 2019. The two sisters couldn’t believe they got to experience such a special moment together.
Oregon Live
Jill actually felt grateful to be at the center of her sister’s life-changing event. “It’s my best friend, someone I’ve come into this world with so it was really a no-brainer that I’d offer to be her surrogate,” she said.
Rhett and Rhenley were a joy for the entire family. Whitney and Jill expected that the twins would become as good friends as they were. The brothers had such a bright future ahead of them.
Facebook / Jill Noe
And after everything Whitney went through, starting a family made all her struggles worthwhile. “I’m a mom now,” she realized. “There are no words to describe it.” Of course, pregnancies have a way of surprising families, even when surrogates aren’t involved.
Just months after their wedding, Bethani and Tim Webb of Hythe in Alberta, Canada, were ecstatic to learn they were going to have a baby. They’d planned to wait a year before having a kid, but couldn’t help but be elated by the news.
Bethany Esther Irene Webb / Facebook
A few months afterward, during a routine visit at the doctor’s office, the couple was asked an unexpected question: did either of their families have histories of multiple births? Confused, Tim and Bethani both shook their heads.
That was when the doctor gave the couple the shock of a lifetime: “She turned the screen and she started counting babies and she counted baby one, baby two, baby three…” Bethani recalled. “You can stop at baby three. Baby three is enough… and then she counted out the fourth baby.”
Bethani immediately started to panic. Obviously, quadruplets would be an enormous challenge—and one that was incredibly rare. In fact, in 2015, there were only 228 sets of quadruplets born in the entire United States!
CBC News / YouTube
Most families with quadruplets had the aid of fertility treatment; there’s also only a one-in-729,000 chance of having quadruplets naturally. So it was understandable that, when Bethani and Tim shared the news with their families, they assumed they were joking!
CTV News / YouTube
Of course, they were entirely serious. The couple quickly considered the logistics. Bethani said that she “realized that we didn’t have a vehicle that could support four babies.” They would also need to temporarily move in with Tim’s mother, as their one-bedroom apartment simply wasn’t big enough for six people.
Their finances would be another issue. It’s a costly affair to raise just one child, let alone four! “Four strollers, four car seats, four cribs. Diapers—diapers everywhere,” Bethani said. All the while, the due date continued to loom…
The pregnancy itself went well until, at 33 weeks, Bethani was transferred to the larger Royal Alexandra Hospital in nearby Edmonton for a C-section. It was there that the couple finally welcomed their daughters—Abigail, Emily, Grace, and McKayla—into the world!
Remember how there was only a one-in-729,000 chance of having quadruplets through natural means? Well, the Webbs were even luckier, because the odds of all four of their babies being girls were just one in 15 million!
There are few guarantees with any pregnancy, but each one of the Webbs’ quadruplets was as healthy as she could be. “I feel overwhelmingly awesome that the babies are here,” Tim said. “I feel blessed.”
Becoming a dad took on a special meaning for Tim, who’d lost his father just a year before the quadruplets were born. Thankfully, he’d have plenty of chances to make his late father proud!
CTV News / YouTube
Of course, nothing could help Tim prepare for being the only man in the house. He was largely outnumbered! Nonetheless, he was happy to have such a beautiful family, and he tried to take his role as a new dad in stride—exhausting as it might have been.
Though the babies were a handful, Bethani and Tim were completely in love with their big family—and they made sure to see the silver lining in everything, even when times were tough. “At least [we] get one nice perk to it all,” Bethani joked. “It was nice that we didn’t have to pick our favorite [baby names].”
CTV News / YouTube
Despite being able to use all of their top name choices, the couple came across one unique problem: trying to tell each baby apart! They needed to find some way to help make the girls look visually distinct…
Bethani Esther Irene Webb / Facebook
Bethani and Tim developed a nifty color-coding system. They selected yellow for Grace, purple for Emily, blue for Abigail, and pink for McKayla—though those colors would change slightly. (Grace would eventually wear red while Abigail wore green, for instance.)
They painted the girls’ nails in designated colors, and the quadruplets would wear different-colored earrings once they were old enough to get their ears pierced. Still, Bethani and Tim enjoyed matching their daughters’ outfits. How could they resist?
Thankfully, Bethani and Tim observed that their daughters all displayed different personalities right away. It was important to them that they addressed each of their babies’ needs—and recognized them as individuals.
Bethani Esther Irene Webb / Facebook
With their rare birth and individual quirks, the young quadruplets and their adorable photos quickly took the internet by storm. Of course, one baby would be cute enough, but four identical babies were another story!
Bethani Esther Irene Webb / Facebook
Fortunately, the Webbs’ unique situation caught the eye of their local community. Caring neighbors in their hometown of Hythe set up a GoFundMe campaign to help offset the enormous costs. Some even held fundraisers for the family!
As hectic as it might have been, the Webbs were dedicated, and they quickly found a routine that worked for them. “I don’t know what I’d do without them,” Bethani said of her beautiful family.

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